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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Strategic Supplementation with Corn for Steers Grazing Bermudagrass

item Aiken, Glen
item Brauer, David

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2002
Publication Date: June 22, 2002

Interpretive Summary: Bermudagrass is a warm-season perennial that is widely grown for grazing in the southeastern U.S.A. Relative ease of management and tolerance to grazing have contributed to it's popularity, but a problem is that cattle weight gains typically decline in the middle and late summer. A factor in this summer slump is the substantial decline in digestible energy as the season progresses, which suggests that supplementation with high energy grains could cost effectively enhance average daily weight gain in late summer. Supplementation of yearling steers with 2 lb/steer/day of ground corn was assessed. Effects of corn supplementation were compared for the entire grazing season versus only during the last half of the season when digestible energy is most limiting. Highest Average Daily Gain were achieved with supplementation for the entire season. Supplementation in the late season had higher weight gain than a no supplement control group. An evaluation of feeding ground corn at either 24- or 48- h intervals further indicated that corn can be fed every second day to save time and labor costs. These results are of interest to cattle producers in the southeast and agricultural professionals like extension agents that work with cattle farmers.

Technical Abstract: Bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] is the most widely grown warm-season perennial grass in the southeast U.S.A., but cattle weight gain on the grass typically declines in the middle to late summer. This summer slump could be associated with a reduction in the digestible energy of bermudagrass that can occur as the growing season progresses. A grazing experiment was conducted with bermudagrass to compare steer ADG between supplementation with ground corn (consumption rate = 2 lb/steer/d) in the late grazing season, supplementation for the entire grazing season, and no supplementation. A second aspect of the study was to determine if time interval between supplement feedings (24 versus 48 h) affects steer ADG. Supplementation for the entire grazing season provided the highest ADG, but steer ADG with supplementation in the late grazing season was 24% higher than with no supplementation. No differences in ADG were detected between 24- and 48-h intervals between supplement feeding. Results of the experiment indicate that supplementation with ground corn in the grazing season is most effective in boosting ADG if fed for the entire grazing season, but supplementation that is restricted to the late season can also increase ADG.

Last Modified: 4/21/2015
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